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Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012

Osaka Ishin no Kai to vow Lower House cuts


Staff writer

OSAKA — A pledge to halve the number of seats in the Lower House will be included in the Osaka Ishin no Kai (One Osaka) manifesto for the next election, party founder and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said Sunday.

"If they're squeezed to do more work, the Lower House doesn't need 480 members," Hashimoto told an audience in Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture. "Our party will seek to halve the number to 240."

Hashimoto didn't specify whether the reduction would impact mainly single-seat constituencies or the proportional representation system.

"Lots of Diet members are now approaching Osaka Ishin no Kai and saying, 'Let's work together.' But if we ask them whether it's OK to reduce the number of seats from 480 to 240, most of them just fade away," he added.

Hashimoto's group, which is aiming for national status, will finish putting together its platform for the next Lower House election this week. Other pledges are expected to include a 30 percent cut in pay and political donations for all Diet members. Hashimoto and Diet members weighing a tieup with Osaka Ishin no Kai will hold a public discussion on the party's platform in Osaka in early September.

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is being courted by Hashimoto and Osaka Ishin no Kai, said on a TV program Saturday he might cooperate with the Osaka mayor on such issues as revising the Constitution.

One shared target is Article 96, which stipulates a two-thirds majority of Diet votes is required to amend the Constitution. Hashimoto and Abe want to lower the threshold to a simple majority.

Hashimoto has yet to formally sign on to another ambition of Abe and other conservatives — revising Article 9, the so-called war renouncing clause, but past comments indicate he would favor its revision.

Abe, who is likely to run for president of the Liberal Democratic Party next month, has ruled out forming a new party with Hashimoto. But he has left open the possibility of an LDP-Osaka Ishin no Kai coalition after the Lower House election.

A recent adultery scandal and his claim there was no evidence Korean women and girls were forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese military during the war don't appear to have dented Hashimoto's popularity.

In mid-August, local and national media polls and Osaka politicians predicted that Osaka Ishin no Kai supporters would be able to secure at least 50 Lower House seats in the Kansai region and as many as 160 nationwide.

Hashimoto said his group aims to field 300 candidates in the election and win 200 seats.

Other emerging local political groups that plan to support national candidates, such as Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura's Chukyo Ishin no Kai, share many of Hashimoto's goals and are potential partners.

In Ehime, Gov. Tokihiro Nakamura, long a Hashimoto ally, is expected to back local Osaka Ishin no Kai-backed candidates.



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The Japan Times

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